Original Director and Writer
Richard Blackburn is a leading theatrical creator, playwright, director and actor-manager. He is probably best known for combining actors with oversized marionettes and sets, and integrating a wide variety of multimedia techniques into his productions. He dazzles the eyes and stirs the emotions with his multidisciplinary approach to visual and aural landscapes of the imagination, all orchestrated into a seamless tapestry.
After graduating in theatre from college and university some 30 years ago, Richard received grants from the governments of Canada and Quebec and embarked on an ambitious career by mounting 30 plays that were exceptionally well received by the critics and the public. He wrote a dozen of the works himself, created 20 large-scale show concepts, and in 1979 became the artistic director of Le Théâtre de la Dame de Coeur (TDC) in Upton, Quebec, whose productions are marked by a social conscience and an awesome grandeur.
TDC is a permanent centre for research, creation, production and education, specializing in shows featuring oversized sets and gigantic marionettes. The performance space is unique in North America: The company uses the sky, indoor venues and outdoor, actors and music to create symbol-driven theatre. Its outdoor venue includes heated chairs that swivel so the audience can watch shows at 360 degrees. In addition to its many productions (including La légende de la blanche et de la noire and Dragon sur table), the company has participated in many special projects such as the parade to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the City of Montreal. The company has also worked on overseas assignments, notably in Singapore for the opening ceremonies of Esplanade Theatres on the Bay in 2002 and as part of Expo 2005 in Japan.
Among his many other activities, Richard Blackburn is a member of the jury of the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec, a government funding body that awards grants in the arts and literature. He also teaches theatre and regularly consults on major special events.
Wintuk is the first time Richard has worked with Cirque du Soleil, and he's come to appreciate the freedom that the Cirque provides. "I really like the structure Cirque brings to the creation of its shows," he says. "It's a place that is a true catalyst for a writer-director."
Richard Blackburn's approach to directing is to abandon the traditional, deconstruct the space he's working in and exploit its full potential in ever-surprising ways. To find the greatest reward he always takes the path that promises the greatest risk and presents him with the biggest challenges. As for Wintuk, he says: "I like to play with proportions and dimensions. I always start with the venue. That's my landscape, and from there I work with allegory, metaphor and size – small, medium and large. I ask myself 'what's the relationship between the human beings on stage and the outsize stage elements, and what's the relationship between the players and the audience?'"
Richard Blackburn was born in Chicoutimi, Quebec in 1951.